72-69. The numbers that made NCAA history on Monday, March 4th. The Kansas Jayhawks succeeded in beating the UNC Tar Heels. Entering Monday, UNC had managed to defeat multiple stellar teams, including Duke in the Final Four, a team that has been known to dominate March Madness. The Tar Heels held a double-digit streak at the half, the longest streak held by any team in NCAA Tournament history. UNC was emerging victorious, an underdog many began to root for throughout the tournament.
Despite UNC’s success, Kansas still held a renowned position in the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks held steady as a fan favorite for days leading up to the championship. The teams’ last national championship win was in 2008, a title they desperately wanted to regain this season. Both UNC and Kansas went into the game with the intention of winning, leaving fans on the edge of their seats from the time the clock struck 9:20 pm ET.
New Orleans hosted the 2022 NCAA matchup, a championship that began with UNC domination. The Tar Heels carried a 40-25 lead into halftime Monday night, due to Kansas’s weak start offensively. Soon after players began the second half, the Jayhawks were turning the game around. Kansas put up 47 points and held UNC to 29. At 72-69, with 4.3 seconds left in the game, North Carolina guard Caleb Love attempted to match the game with a 3-pointer but missed. UNC was unable to manage another shot in the time left.
Kansas’s win made NCAA history, surpassing the 1963 title game when Loyola overcame a 15 point deficit to beat Cincinnati at the buzzer. Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji was named the 2022 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, managing to score 12 points Monday night. Agbaji also made sure to recognize the achievement of sophomore player, Dajuan Harris, who made the greatest impact on the defensive side of the ball during the second half. All in all, the Kansas Jayhawks managed a historic feat, turning around a game with such a significant lead by UNC.
However, UNC did not go down without a fight. There were numerous attempts made by star players to dominate the game, including attempts from Armando Bacot. Bacot had 15 points on 3-of-13 shooting and 15 rebounds. Bacot set the Tar Heels up for a successful championship in the first half but fell short in the second half much to the dismay of fans. Bacot had sustained an ankle injury during UNC’s game against Duke in the Final Four, an injury that Bacot claimed got worse as the championship went on. Bacot is said to have rolled his already hurt ankle twice while playing against the Jayhawks.
Harris, Agbaji, and the 13 other Kansas Jayhawks dominated in the second half of the championship. Their passion and determination for the sport, and the impressive skill of a few key players, resulted in their first NCAA championship win in 14 years. Both the Jayhawks and the Tar Heels played a spectacular last game, a game that will go down in sports history, beating out many impressive teams from the Dukes to the Gonzagas.
Through Teen Lenses: What were your feelings regarding the University of Kansas’s big win? What were your original predictions for the Kansas Jayhawks this March Madness?
“I knew based off of their previous seasons, that the Kansas Jayhawks would make it far. I had originally predicted they would be in the top four this year. However, I was shocked by their success in the final brackets. Particularly, their win in the championship. I’m happy for their success, but I also feel that there were a lot of outside factors that helped their win, such as the other team's players injuring themselves in the previous games.”
Riley Caffey, 17, Junior at Westfield High School, Chantilly, Virginia
“I’m a little biased- my grandmother went to UNC, so I was rooting for them. I didn’t think much of Kansas, because the same teams usually dominate March Madness. I had bet on Gonzaga and Duke making it to the championship.”
Becca Jeffries, 17, Junior at Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria, Virginia
“I hadn’t expected UNC to make it as far as they did. I knew Kansas was a pretty well known team, and I had predicted they would make it to the top 6 or so. When UNC and Kansas made it to the championship, I expected Kansas would win, but what I hadn’t expected was for UNC to dominate in the first half of the game.”
Niyathi Jag, 17, Junior at Westfield High School, Centreville, Virginia